6 Reasons Why Beyonce’s ‘Formation’ Is Important

beyonce-formation

Beyoncé is back by popular demand!

On Saturday afternoon, she broke the Internet with her new song “Formation” and its accompanying visual. The nearly five-minute visual, directed by Malina Matsoukas, is filled with powerful imagery related to black culture — and we love it!

Bey doesn’t hold back whatsoever on “Formation.” She lets the world know that she owns her blackness, she knows her history and she wants to see other black people succeed like her. “Formation” may be one of Bey’s most politically charged works to date.

Rated R&B has the six reasons why Beyonce’s “Formation” matters.

1. She doesn’t give a f*ck what you think about her or her family.

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Beyoncé has been radio silent much of that last year, barely giving interviews or addressing rumors and criticism about her life and family. One major topic of discussion in the world of Beyoncé is how she styles her 4-year-old daughter Blue Ivy’s natural hair and her husband Jay-Z’s appearance. Beyoncé boldly proclaims “I like my baby hair, with baby hair and afros / I like my negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils.”

Beyoncé doesn’t stop there with the haters– she let’s them have it even more. She addresses  people who try to attribute her huge success to being a part of the illuminati. “Y’all haters corny with that illuminati mess,” she sings on “Formation.” 

2. She celebrates New Orleans, a decade after Hurricane Katrina.

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Beyoncé returns to Louisiana 10 years after her video “Deja Vu” and a decade after Hurricane Katrina. It’s symbolic because it’s been a decade since the horrific tragedy. The singer brings this to the forefront her heritage and shines a light on the culture of the city while never letting us forget how that natural disaster changed that city forever.

3. She continues to be a voice for modern-day feminists.

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The power in Beyoncé has always been her strong and independent voice as a woman and now feminist. Beyoncé continues to take ownership of her sexuality and doesn’t conform to the traditional roles expected of women in R&B and Hip-Hop culture. Yoncé teases her man singing she’d “might buy him Red Lobster” if his sex is good, totally flipping the script on traditional gender roles and dating.  Not only is Beyoncé twerking, but she’s very socially aware in “Formation” and owning her beauty, sexiness, and power as the Queen.

4. She pays homage to the black gay community.

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Beyoncé has long been an icon in the black gay community. On “Formation” she gives a major platform to popular bounce artists Messy Mya & Big Freedia. The late Messy Mya can be heard on the track, along with Big Freedia who is also very popular among the gay community. The addition of these performers, especially including their voice helps to give the gay/queer culture an even larger platform and shows she respects the community that she is inspired so heavily by in her music and dance.

5. She salutes #BlackGirlMagic. 

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There is some major #BlackGirlMagic displayed in the video. Her amazing dancers are all wearing big beautiful natural hair and powerfully dancing. The video displays an array of black beauty in all shades and hair textures showing just how amazing black women are.

Beyoncé is a powerful, inspirational black woman and rightfully so. She dedicated her life to her career and it has paid off — literally. She is worth over $450 million, according to Forbes. While Bey continues to slay the world, she unites black women on “Formation” and encourages them to slay too. This speaks volumes. For some reason, prominent black women (particularly in entertainment) are pit against each other. Beyoncé brushes it off and says there’s enough room for every black woman to succeed.

6. She makes it clear that Black Lives Matter.

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In the past, Bey has been criticized for not publicly speaking on social issues such as the Black Lives Matters movement. Although she has attended Trayvon Martin’s vigil and reportedly donated money to bail out protesters arrested in police brutality demonstrations. She makes it more clear that black lives matter on “Formation.” From young black kid in a hoodie dancing in front of a lineup of armed officers to showing “stop shooting us” graffitied on a wall, Bey is fed up with cops killing black people for no reason.

Watch the full “Formation” video here.

— Written by Keithan Samuels & Michael Howard

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4 Reasons We Love Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston Birthday

There will never be another singer like Whitney Houston; she’s incomparable, she’s an icon, and she is the standard. On the sixth anniversary of her unfortunate passing, here at Rated R&B we’ve created a shortlist of reasons why we love the vocal legend herself. Check it out below:

Her Powerful Voice

How do you describe the indescribable? Whitney’s voice is the purest to have ever graced human ear. On top of her outstanding natural ability, her technique, precision, and control make her “The Voice.” Just like rapper Biggie Smalls has never had a bad verse, Whitney has never hit a bad note. There is a multitude of examples, but at Super Bowl XXV in 1991, she gave what is regarded as the best rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” to have ever been done. It is here, without all of the vocal thrills and frills, that you can truly grasp how marvelous her voice was.

The Way Other Artists Loved and Respected Her

If you ask any female singer that came out in the last 25 years who some of their inspirations are, you can bet Whitney’s name will come out of their mouth. For most singers, especially black women, Whitney was a role model. She was a black girl from New Jersey whose passion was sharing her musical gift to the world and having fun while doing so. In the first clip below, Monica explains Whitney’s personal impact on her life (this part of the interview begins around 1:42.) Even after her death, Whitney continues to inspire and empower the women that have come after her in the music industry. In the second clip below, you can find one of the greatest tributes ever performed, courtesy of gospel powerhouse Yolanda Adams, who ends the video with a resounding “We love you, Nip.”

Her Stage Presence

Whitney’s personality was both charming and endearing, as we’ve all seen in her interviews, famous and infamous alike. That natural charm carries over into her live performances, as she literally comes alive in song. In interviews, she was always well-spoken, clear, and concise. When it comes time to sing, she let her hair down and had a great time with her audience — no matter the occasion. In the clip below, Whitney performs a 16-minute set of her greatest hits at the “Arista Records 25th Anniversary Celebration,” full of life, laughter, and love.

Her Artistic Versatility

Whitney is one of the best-selling female artists of all time, and one of the biggest icons the world will ever see. What often gets left out of her lengthy list of accomplishments is her artistic risks and versatility. Speaking on her discography alone, she has recorded music that spans all of its genres. Whether she delivers a pop cut like “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” the Raphael Saddiq and Q-Tip-produced jam “Fine,” a universal duet with Enrique Iglesias (“Could I Have This Kiss Forever”), or a powerhouse ballad like “The Greatest Love of All,” Whitney was the jack of all trades. Not only did she master it, she believed in her ability, and she succeeded beyond measure.That’s just the tip of the iceberg, as her artistry made its way into film beginning with 1992’s box office smash hit The Bodyguard.

Below is one of her scenes from the cult classic Waiting to Exhale. Pay attention to her body language, the way she emotes in her voiceover, all the way down to the flickers of disapproval in her eyes. Whitney was, and will always be a class act.

What is your favorite Whitney moment? Share with us in the comment section below!

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10 Underrated Songs by Toni Braxton

Toni Braxton Underrated Songs

“I used to dream of living lavish, now your girl’s a living legend,” Toni Braxton sings on her newest offering “Heart Away.” She’s absolutely right: she is a living legend. With three multi-platinum albums, six top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, and over 67 million records sold, Braxton is basking in the glory of her success.

As she gears up for her eighth studio album Sex & Cigarettes, let’s countdown some of her most slept-on records in a new monthly series we like to call UnderRated. (Sidenote: to be considered an “underrated” record, the song couldn’t have I have been a single at any point in time.)

Check out the list below:

“Gimme Some” (feat. Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes) from the album The Heat (2000)

Credits: Jazze Pha, Toni Braxton, Babyface, Lisa Lopes (Writers); Babyface and Jazze Pha (Producers)

Oh, Toni, why wasn’t this danceable number a single? Even though Babyface and Jazze Pha seem like an unlikely musical pair, they went to work on the lyrical content and production of this banger, which has Braxton taking charge when it comes to her love interest.

“It is an age-old story / Goes back back to Adam and to Eve / I know you know what I want for / And if it ain’t clear to ya baby / Don’t stop, let’s Rock, give it to me baby,” she sings. Left-Eye had a stellar verse too.

“What’s Good” from the album Libra (2005)

Credits: Bryan-Michael Cox, Johnta Austin, Toni Braxton, Joe Sample (Writers); Bryan-Michael Cox and Keri Lewis (Producers)

“What’s Good” appears as the third track off of Libra, and following the hip-hop edged songs “Please” and “Trippin’,” it’s a perfect musical shift in the gear of the album. Led by a genius sample of Joe Sample’s “In All My Wildest Dreams,” Braxton sings & coos confidently inc her signature contralto tone about the great things her new man does for her.

“It’s like a house I never left / Like a fever I wanna catch / Like a mountain that’s worth the climb / Talkin’ ’bout this man of mine / Like my money I wanna spend / My homie-lover-friend / He’ll be with me till the end / And he’s never failed me yet,” she sings.

“Caught (Don’t Take Your Hat Off) [feat. Mo’Nique]” from Pulse (2010)

Credits: Mikkel Stoleer Eriksen, Tor Erik Hermansen, LaShawn Daniels (Writers); Stargate (Producer)

Songs that appear on an album’s deluxe edition have a way of adding value to the original album; that’s exactly what this Stargate-produced jam off the Pulse deluxe album does. Braxton kicks her lover out of her house after being cheated on.

“Baby I been more than good to you / When you leaving gimme my key back too / It’s about to go down /Your, your other new lady/ You’re out there with your pants down,” she sings. The light, somber piano is almost addicting, and Mo’Nique’s monologue is the perfect touch.

“Talking In His Sleep” from the album Secrets (1996)

Credits: Toni Braxton (Writer); Keith Crouch (Producer)

Following “Un-Break My Heart” on the Secrets track listing is no easy feat, but bluesy tune “Talking in His Sleep” holds its own. Braxton’s speaking voice has a chilling effect as she touches on infidelity and adultery. “Guilty secrets/ They are haunting my life / And he doesn’t even know that I know/ Can you hear him / The promises he makes/ Said we’ll be together for always / He’s such a liar / Then he goes out to burn me.” The Mary J. Blige-esque jazzy bass line is killer!

“You’ve Been Wrong” from the album The Heat (2000)

Credits: Toni Braxton, Brian Casey, Brandon Casey, Teddy Bishop, Kevin Hicks, Thom Bell, Linda Creed (Writers); Teddy Bishop and Kevin Hicks (Producers)

If The Heat was a family, “Just Be a Man About It” would be the older sibling to this guitar-led track, which hears Braxton finally finding the strength to leave a no-good lover. “Finally I’ve realized/ Your lies have opened up my eyes/ This love affair, now it’s over, over/You’ve been wrong for so long/ And I can’t take the pain you bring me no more/ You’ve been wrong for so long/ And I can’t take the pain you bring me no more,” she sings. Oh, and the Stylistics’ “Stop Look Listen To Your Heart” interpolation? Genius.

“Lies, Lies, Lies” from the album More Than a Woman (2002)

Credits: Keri Lewis and Stokley (Writers); Keri Lewis (Producer)

Ms. Braxton is fed up on this rock n’ roll (yes, rock!) cut. “Don’t bother to apologize / It’s too late, heard it all before / And it should come as no surprise / I’m leavin’, I packed my things / ’Cuz I’m through with this merry-go-round / I’m getting off, I finally found / My strength way deep down / I shoulda left your ass after the first round,” she sings. This is one of the best songs Braxton has ever recorded. EVER (in my opinion).

The raw emotion, the pacing of the song, the commitment to the vocal — Toni was in her bag! Stokley didn’t play a single game with the lyrics, guitar solo, or the backing vocals. Shout out to Chris Dave, who played the drums on this song. And trust, this song is nothing without the drums!

“Shadowless” from the album Libra (2005)

Credits: Alex Cantrell and Philip White (Writers); Keri Lewis (Producer)

Some of Toni’s best songs have a nice guitar somewhere hidden in the instrumentation, but the acoustic guitar takes center stage on this song about regret and love lost. “Gotta make it right with you / Ooh you baby / So tell me what I gotta do / Ooh to make u come back home / Ooh boy how can this be / I remember that every step / U were here with me/ Now I’m shadowless,” she sings. There is just something so magical about the Living Legend’s smoky vocals over the spirited strums of the guitar. Although this would’ve been a nice finale track for this album, penultimate isn’t so bad either.
(If you’re feeling adventurous, check out the AOL Sessions version of this song.)

“The Heat” from the album The Heat (2000)

Credits: Keri Lewis and Toni Braxton (Writers and Producers)

Braxton channels the summer vibes and brings the heat on this sexy title track. “Summer’s almost over so you better hurry / Andale! Andale! / Starting right now let’s dance and party / Ole! Ole! Ole! / Give Me a reason to love you through, through the season / No need to hesitate, come on let’s get it on,” she sings. This song is easy and breezy; sultry and sensual; sex — well, y’all get the point. And to answer your question, Toni, yes, I do want some ice cream.

“Why Should I Care” from the album Secrets (1996)

Credit: Babyface (Writer and Producer)

Braxton is fed up and denying her ex lover a second chance on this ‘90s tune. “And every time I start to slip / I just remind myself / I need only thing of it / I went through so much hell / You say ya wanna get things back / The way they used to be / Can you give one good reason / Why I should darlin’/ Why should I care / Why should I care for you,” she sings. Babyface and Toni Braxton are always a magical pair, but you have to get into these background vocals from the one and only Chanté Moore!

“Do You Remember When” from the album More Than a Woman (2002)

Credits: Toni Braxton, Rodney Jerkins, Fred Jerkins, LaShawn Daniels III (Writers); Rodney Jerkins (Producer)

This More Than a Woman cut finds Toni Braxton thinking back on the better moments of her time with an ex lover. “Do it like you did back then / And then we’ll do it again / Do you remember when? / Reminiscing and more on what we had before / Makes me feel so warm inside / Wanting you constantly and feeling so sorry / That we had to say goodbye,” she sings. Although this song feels like a The Neptunes-Kelis combo, Rodney Jerkins’ groovy production and Toni’s tender vocals fit seamlessly on this track, making it one of the standouts on this album.

Honorable Mentions

“Selfish” from More Than a Woman: Upon first listen, you’ll notice how intricate the background vocals are. So, it’s no surprise that this song credits Brandy as a writer and her ex-boyfriend Robert Smith as the producer of this breezy tune.

“If I Have to Wait” from Pulse: It’s unfortunate that Country radio and the Country music industry is so exclusive, because this had the potential to be a nice crossover hit.

“Sposed to Be” from Libra: Blackground Records was not feeling the original album that Toni Braxton and then-husband Keri Lewis turned in, so they set her up with additional recording sessions. That decision led to the creation of this sensual cut, which is spearheaded by The Underdogs and even features a writing credit for Keri Hilson.

What are your favorite songs from this list? Let us know in the comment section below!

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Ready, Set, Release: 10 R&B Albums We’re Anticipating This Year

Will 2018 be the year our favorite established and budding artist use their new opportunities to take the music industry by storm?

This dream could turn into a reality for many artists. For starters, an artist could go on tour for thousands to perform their biggest hits, or sing for hundreds to reconnect with them on an intimate level.

Then again, an artist could align themselves with lucrative brands to influence consumers to believe in their products while gaining exposure from a new audience for themselves.

But the simplest approach to keep your names in the headlines is to release new music. An artist whose album release is more anticipated than a Lebron Ring finds this selling tactic the easiest.

With the help of our faithful readers, we’ve compiled a list of 10 artists who we hope drop an album this year.

Jacquees

Jacquees has been bubbling for more than seven years and still has not released a debut album. The Rich Gang crooner has kept us occupied with consistent material while gassing us about his debut album, 4275, which was expected to drop in 2017. Is Jacquees debut album caught up in the rapture of Cash Money’s financial scrambles? Is Jacquees still recording and perfecting his first album? No one can accurately give a reason to his album delay, but we do know he’s joining forces with Chris Brown for a mixtape, promising to “fuck this R&B shit up.”

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